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SF Films in Review — Fri 17 Nov 2000

The 6th Day

Directed by Roger Spottiswoode; written by Cormac Wibberley and Marianne Wibberley; starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Goldwyn, Robert Duvall. (Columbia)

Review Grades

source, reviewer actual score grade*
Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert *** B
CNN, Paul Clinton   B+
Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman B- B-
LAT, Kenneth Turan   C-
Mr. Showbiz, Larry Terenzi 70/100 B-
NYT, Elvis Mitchell   C-
The New Yorker, David Denby   B-
Slate, David Edelstein   B-
WP, Rita Kempley   C
IMDb 7.5/10 B
* Assigned by Locus Online as subjective summary of each review


Slate's Summary Judgment

The critics wouldn't mind this film's fuzzy science if Arnold Schwarzenegger weren't so clunky at playing a clone. ... Is this an intentional satire of the iconization of Ah-nold's character?

Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert

Cloning in "The 6th Day" has made great leaps forward since the days of the sheep named Dolly. ... Using a quick eye scan, the cloners can make a "syncording" of the contents of a pet's mind, so it will still recognize its owner and know all the same tricks. And the same thing is done illegally in the movie with humans....

"The 6th Day" is not in the same league with the great Schwarzenegger films such as "Total Recall" and "Terminator 2," but it's a well-crafted entertainment containing enough ideas to qualify it as science fiction and not just as a futurist thriller.

CNN, Paul Clinton

"The 6th Day" is a fast-action, well-paced, clever sci-fi thriller that should go far toward erasing the bad aftertaste caused by last year's "End Of Days."

Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman

At the center of the movie is a solid gimmick that may or may not be an intentional howler: Schwarzenegger, as a personality, is such a hammy and overdeliberate robo-lug that when he's on screen along with his double, there's no way to tell the difference.

LAT, Kenneth Turan

One of "The 6th Day's" devices is the notion that it's awfully hard to tell a clone from the original person, and though this leads to some wry humor ("Doesn't anyone stay dead anymore," Adam asks plaintively at one point), it's also confusing and saps our interest. Given how generic everything else about "The 6th Day" is, from its standard-issue action to its halfhearted dialogue and acting, that's one situation even two Schwarzeneggers aren't enough to solve.

Mr. Showbiz, Larry Terenzi

Although pets can be copied, human cloning is strictly off-limits, but is practiced on the sly by biotech tycoon Michael Drucker (Tony Goldwyn) and his team of baddies. After some hazy exposition, Gibson's accidentally cloned and soon confronts himself in a labyrinthine plot stocked by spousal scripters Cormac and Marianne Wibberley with rather routine chases and shootouts. The running gag, that Drucker's goons are repeatedly offed, only to return as second- and third-generation clones, is underused, the richer satirical possibilities bypassed for requisite action.

NYT, Elvis Mitchell

The film's subject is appropriate because almost everything in the movie seems to be lifted from the DNA of other pictures. Despite some deft touches, this logy thriller seems so familiar that you may find yourself waiting for its star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to awake and find that he's actually in "Total Recall," which was also about confusion.

The New Yorker, David Denby

The idea of the movie seems to be that technology is erasing the difference between the human and the nonhuman, and no one much cares. The entrepreneur is shot, and his clone asks the indignant original for his b eautiful clothes. It's an outrageous request, but it makes perfect sense. Is an ambitious clone expected to go naked into the world? At such moments, "The 6th Day" comes close to brilliance. Yet there are conventional elements that let us down--car chases and endless shootouts and helicopters racing all over the place. I wish Spottiswoode and his team had trusted the fantastic side of their idea more than they did.

Slate, David Edelstein

That said, The 6th Day is a fun ride. It's loud and obvious, but it's also the first high-tech, sci-fi thriller to think through some of the implications of cloning and capitalism—the idea that, no matter how the government legislates, big business will find a way to make genetic immortality available to anyone with enough money or power.

The 6th Day dodges the most haunting question, which has nothing to do with actual duplication. These clones have distinct and separate consciousnesses, which makes it unclear why some characters seem relatively untroubled by their imminent deaths. I don't want someone who looks and thinks like me to go on in my place: I want to go on, and who cares if I have the same body? Actually, I'd rather have another body—just so it doesn't look like Arnold's.

WP, Rita Kempley

However, as Schwarzenegger promised in interviews, "The 6th Day" is a warmer, fuzzier action thriller, one that he can show his children. In character, he warns a bad guy to mind his manners around his daughter. "I don't want to expose her to any graphic violence. She already gets enough of that from the media."

Nevertheless, the body count remains high. But the star probably thinks the numbers are offset because everyone he kills is resurrected and he must slay them again. "Give me a break," says one bad guy. "I've already been killed twice today."

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